Guidance on avoiding heating fuel thefts
OFTEC and UKIFDA have issued advice to rural households and businesses regarding how to protect fuel tanks against theft.
By taking a few simple steps, and staying vigilant, we can all make it much harder for thieves to steal heating oil. Oil theft is still fairly rare and difficult to achieve. With home working now more common, fewer rural homes are left empty during the day so it’s much more difficult for thieves to operate.
While it’s difficult to stop really determined criminals, in most cases a few simple security measures will deter most opportunistic thieves.
Below are our top five tips to protect your oil tank:
- Screen your tank
Many thefts are opportunistic with thieves spotting tanks while in the neighbourhood. It’s a good idea to screen your tank with a fence, wall, plants or a trellis. However, ensure you leave enough room for servicing, maintenance, and oil deliveries. You must also comply with fire-safety recommendations. Useful advice can be found here: https://www.oftec.org/consumers/off-gas-grid-guides/home-guide-to-domestic-liquid-fuel-storage-up-to-3500-litres
- Security lighting and CCTV
Motion-activated security lighting will startle potential thieves and could alert you to their presence. CCTV cameras are also a good deterrent and can provide valuable evidence should a theft occur.
- Tank locks and alarms
The inspection cap on your tank will usually have eyelets to enable padlocking. Remember not to lock your tank vent. Some electronic oil level gauges can alert you if the oil level drops suddenly. If you have one, display a 'This tank is alarmed' sign or sticker.
Thieves often come equipped with tools, so invest in high-quality padlocks for your tank lock or cage. Closed shackle padlocks make it difficult to access with bolt cutters. Ensure any locks or equipment bought are to ‘Sold secure’ or ‘Secured by design’ standard.
- Be vigilant and join forces with your neighbours
One of the best ways to prevent theft is simply to be alert and watch out for any suspicious activity. If you don’t have a neighbourhood watch group in your area, why not set one up?